How Can We Encourage Curiosity?

Curiosity is an important trait to have for any healthy human. How can we make sure that we are as curious as possible?

There are many ways that curiosity helps us, and there are also ways that a lack of it can hurt us.

For instance, being curious about our environment is how we learn as children. We wonder about about the things around us, and that helps us with motor skills, language, reasoning, and other developmental skills.

It also helps us continue our education, both formally and informally. Formally through school and from teachers, and informally as we read on our own and in the hobbies we pursue.

To see how a lack of curiosity can hurt us, look no further than today’s political climate. Most people are content in echo feedback chambers, listening to opinions that mirror their own. They seek out news outlets that confirm their own viewpoint, and may even choose friends the same way.

One way out of this problem is to be curious about people you disagree with. Do you dismiss them out of hand, or do you wonder why they have another opinion? Being curious about something different — different religion, political party, skin color, native language,  and so on — allows us to be more understanding.

Curiosity can also lead to better mental health. As we age, learning about things you don’t already know keeps our brains flexible. It can help our own health as well as helping society at large.

So those are some of the benefits. But what are the specific methods we can employ to achieve these positive outcomes? What can we do in our everyday lives to encourage curiosity?

Related questions: How do you learn? What does it mean to be healthy? How do you adopt new ideas? How can we maintain wonder?

What Does An Audience Owe The Artist?

One of the most interesting aspects of art is the relationship between the artist, who creates the art, and the audience, who interprets it.

The artist obviously has something in mind when they create, no matter if what they create is a piece of music, a painting, or something else altogether. That inspiration may or may not be obvious to the person or people who see the finished work.

The artist and the audience may never meet, and there is no guarantee that someone experiencing the piece will know anything at all about the person who created it. That not only includes who the artist is, but also what they are trying to convey in the work they have created.

However, there is a relationship between creator and consumer. Art is a means of communicating from one person to another, even if that communication is indirect.


Listen to a podcast where Michael and Lee discuss a related question: ‘How can we maintain wonder?’ We also discuss a bonus question: ‘How do you think others see you?’


With that in mind, does the audience for a work of art have any responsibility to the artist? Do they owe serious consideration, honest emotion, setting an appropriate context, or even learning about the intention during creation?

Does it vary from artist to artist, and/or from audience to audience? Does it depend on the type of art created? For example, does someone looking at a painting have a different obligation to the painter than someone listening to some music owes the composer and/or performer? What about a play, or some other public performance?

Related questions: What is art? Art: Create or consume? How important is the artist to art?

Is There Something You Do That Others Would Consider Harmful?

It is no secret that different people often have conflicting opinions. What one person might consider the right course of action, another might think wrong, or even harmful.

With that in mind, are there actions you have taken that others have disagreed with? Disagreed with so strongly, in fact, that a friend or a family member considered what you were doing to be dangerous?

Harmful, in this context, can mean many things.

One possibility is to be harmful to yourself. If you do something that puts your life, or some part of it, at risk, that might be considered harmful to you. This might include doing something that puts your job or your livelihood at risk. It might also mean risking physical harm, as well.

A second possibility is to risk the relationships or the even the lives of people around you. For example, someone might consider you a bad parent if you permit your child to participate in risky behavior (even if it is done in a controlled way).

Yet another type of harmful behavior might include something potentially damaging to the environment. This might include something as simple as not recycling, or something like driving an older, polluting car.

Naturally, differences of opinion may very well be at the heart of some of disagreements. Someone might believe eating meat is harmful (it’s certainly harmful to the animals being eaten), but someone else might simply view that as part of natural life: animals eat other animals.

Is there any behavior you have participated in that someone else considered harmful? Did you come to regret your actions, or do you feel they were justified? Or some of both?

Related questions: What do you do that you shouldn’t? How do you judge yourself? What beliefs do you have that might be wrong? When should you criticize someone?

What Is Genius?

The word “genius” gets used often these days. But what exactly is genius, and how can you tell it when you see it?

Either a person or an idea can be referred to as “genius”. Typically for a person, it might refer to someone with a particularly high IQ. This can be measured via an IQ test, and at least in theory, can be quantified.

However, it is also used in other contexts. For example, someone might be called a musical or artistic genius. Is there any possible way this can be measured? Is there some sort of threshold to be labeled as such in a creative field? Or is it entirely subjective?


Listen to a podcast where Michael and Lee discuss a related question: ‘What gives a person value?’ We also discuss a bonus question: ‘What makes you you?’


When the word is used to describe a creative person, is it used for someone with a high level of expertise in a very specific field, or to someone with a broad skill set? That is, which is more of a musical genius: a guitar virtuoso, or someone who can play a dozen different instruments with a relatively high level of skill? Or perhaps both are?

If both, are we in danger of making the definition of the word so broad that it loses meaning? If everyone can be called a genius (in their own way), does the word cease to mean anything?

How do you use the word? Do you use it frequently, or know people who do? Does it simply mean “I think this is really great” or is it more than that?

What is genius?

Related questions: How can we measure intelligence? What is intelligence? How important are important people? How important is the artist to art?

What Is Your Controversial Idea?

We all have idea about ourselves, our society, and how the future will play out. Are any of your ideas controversial in nature?

It can be very easy — almost too easy, in fact — to agree with people around you. Whether it comes from the media we consume, our social media feed, or conversations we have with friends or family, thinking in lockstep is quite common.

On the other hand, holding an opinion or an idea that is controversial, particularly when people you know and respect disagree with you, can be extremely difficult. Even if your thoughts are logical and consistent, peer pressure can be a powerful force to overcome.

There is an element of human psychology that sometimes arises, however. We can also be very contrary creatures, and sometimes when everyone disagrees with you, you may be more likely to become stubborn and refuse to change your position.


Listen to a podcast where Michael and Lee discuss a related question: ‘What beliefs do you have that might be wrong?’ We also discuss a bonus question: ‘What makes a place feel like home?’


One recurring problem with controversial ideas is that they may veer dangerously close to conspiracy theories. Even if you don’t think of it that way, others may equate something controversial with something crackpot. And frankly, sometimes it is hard to tell the difference.

And yet, progress is made because people have had an idea that started out being different from the majority of people around them. Gradually, however, additional evidence may be gathered. Ideas evolve. What was once controversial may eventually become mainstream.

Do you have any ideas that you consider controversial? Why do you believe them, and how do you defend them to others?

Related questions: What do you believe? What beliefs do you have that might be wrong? How much of our thoughts are our own? How are you a non-conformist?